It is with much sadness and alarm that the rise of desperate acts and suicide are being witnessed in our land. While tragedies have been ever before us, those in the throes of anguish often see no hope or remedy for their situations. Many reasons have been given as to the state in which some find themselves: broken homes, loss of health, loss of friends, broken relationships, economic woes, personal failures, poor decisions. All these are factors that can stress the soul, and the individual, absorbed and overwhelmed in the difficulties being faced, often having ignored or relegated to an obscure role that which is spiritual, looks inward to his being and finds little comfort and strength for resolving the conflicts of life.
That is a good first step, for the person has recognized their inadequacy. How wonderful when that is not the final assessment of one’s life but rather that which causes the individual to see his need of the One who created him and who desires to have relationship with Him. Jesus said … “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:9-10 NASB). This life is found only in Christ through faith in the fact that on the Cross He paid the sin debt of every individual and offers to all a personal relationship with God. To a discouraged and doubting disciple Jesus said … “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).
God’s life for anyone really begins at the Cross and the Apostle Peter instructs how that life is to be lived after believing in Christ … “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18a NIV). The apostle does not state that the difficulties of life will be eliminated and that health, wealth and prosperity will ensue. Unfortunately many have been misled into that mode of thinking. Rather the challenge given by Peter speaks of grace and knowledge by which this new life in Christ is to be lived.
To Paul, whose mission in life was most difficult, God’s words of comfort and strength were … “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9 NIV). As long as Paul was focused on his circumstances, he despaired, even begging God to remove the adversity that he encountered. It was not until he took his eyes off of his circumstances that the reality of God’s sustaining grace became evident in his life. He could then say … “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10 NIV).
Spiritual strength to trust God in the most despairing of situations only comes from understanding His Word and knowing His faithfulness to fulfill in each of His own that which can bring Him glory and honor. He reminded those Jewish exiles who had survived the death march to Babylon … “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity [your place of adversity]” (Jer 29:11-14 NIV). “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Ps 50:15 NIV).